On track for a vintage day out

"It was an unforgettable day.

"We got on a coach in Skagway and travelled up 3000 feet to the Canadian Yukon and then back down to Skagway aboard vintage carriages of the historic White Pass & Yukon rail line.

"There were other options, such as doing the train in both directions, but we thought we would see more with the bus trip as well. It was raining when we arrived in Skagway - they tell you it rains 368 days a year there! - but when we got up into the mountains there was no rain and the country was beautiful in its starkness. It's very rocky and wild countryside and we were struck by the beauty of it.

"We stopped for lunch at a small tourist complex where there was a shop and a place where they were breeding husky dogs; they had some young pups there.

"We continued on to the village of Carcross, which used to be known as Caribou Crossing, and had plenty of time to wander around and go into the old-fashioned store there. I'm a bit of a history buff and it was very interesting to learn a bit about the town's history.

"Then it was back on the bus to Fraser, which is a tiny town on the Klondike Highway, and this was where we got on the White Pass & Yukon train, which dates back to the Klondike gold rush of 1898.

"The train is now pulled by a diesel engine; they don't use steam any more, because of the fire risk.

"It was a wonderful, wonderful trip down through Dead Horse Gulch, with views of waterfalls, rivers and gullies. It was the fact that it was a very ancient railway and you follow the original track all the way that really appealed to us. The train took us all the way back to Skagway, where it was just a 10-minute walk back to the ship. I would recommend this excursion to anyone. It was the stand-out of all the shore excursions we did on our cruise."

Value for money

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Peter and Thelma paid about $200 each for their excursion, which Peter says was excellent value as it included the coach and train journeys and a picnic lunch.

"It was an eight-hour excursion and it wasn't as though we were just poured on to a bus to sit there and look at the scenery," he says.

WHO Peter Bogan from East Maitland in the Lower Hunter Valley, on his fourth cruise.
WHAT
Exploring the Yukon territory of western Canada, via Alaska.
WHERE
The shore excursion started and finished at the Alaskan port of Skagway, at the top of Alaska's Inside Passage.
THE SHIP
Peter cruised with his wife Thelma on a 33-day itinerary on Holland America Line's MS Volendam (hollandamerica.com), boarding in Vancouver and cruising up Alaska's Inside Passage before continuing on to the US west coast, Hawaii and Sydney.

As told to Jane E. Fraser
Have you done an interesting shore excursion? Drop us a line at travelshd@fairfaxmedia.com.au